Humanity's tendency towards commodification of things ought to be resisted.
***Bsh1 Unique Topics Tournament****
Definition: Commodification is the transformation of goods, services, ideas and not least people into commodities or objects of trade.
I accept the challenge and look forward to a thoughtful discussion.
Commodification of goods, services and labor are part of capitalistic economic functions. However, recently there has been a trend to commoditize of just about everything, even the air we breathe. Commoditization can alter, strip away or supplant cultures, social mores, and monetizes human life. Commodification has been imposed by dominant economic cultures upon weaker ones. It also occurs within advanced capitalistic societies, which negatively homogenizes the populous to a consumer driven ego-centrically based society. Continued commodification ought to be resisted.
Indigenous Cultures and Tourism
Assigning economic value to indigenous cultures for the purpose of tourism has negative impacts. Artwork and cultural traditions are turned into a commodity. Religious rituals are reduced to performance art. Traditions, beliefs and artifact creation are staged to fit tourist’s preconceived notions. Often the profits are not realized by the indigenous people, but by a second party who created the industry’s infrastructure of hotels, restaurants and performance spaces. The natural environment in which the heritage is based is altered or destroyed for tourist comforts; ecological destruction to a point that indigenous people are no longer capable of independence outside of the industry. Native youth emulate behaviors of the tourist favoring modernization and their affluent lifestyle. The formerly modest lifestyle of the culture shifts to acquisition of modern goods and becomes a representation of the lifestyle of the tourist themselves. Commodification of culture is destructive; a heritage and it meanings are lost for the almighty dollar [1. http://tinyurl.com..., 2. http://tinyurl.com.... http://tinyurl.com... ]
Emotions are Commodified
Love is a commodity. A non-custodial parent makes purchases for a child that is equated as love compensation for the adult’s “care deficit.” Dating applications and groups like Match.com charge to find you love. The “girl friend experience” is a prostitute’s special packaged performance for a fee to make you “feel loved.” Avoidance off emotional distress, a trophy or award for every participant in a competition; good feelings have a price.
Our judicial systems commodifies emotions with pain and suffering awards. It is not sufficient to reimburse for loss or damage of personal property, wages or medical care, but for grief, worry, fright, nervousness, temporary emotional shock, humiliation, indignity, and embarrassment, even after an individual has emotionally and physically recovered to his/her pre-incident state [4. http://tinyurl.com... ].
We Commodify Ourselves
We have commodifized self identity through media driven idealized standards of physical beauty and presentation. It creates consumer desire to be either “the perceived normal” or as a person who breaks the mold; all carefully crafted by advertizing. To be fashionable, thin, and attractive are fed to us as prescriptions to remake ourselves to fit in, or appear to stand out from the crowd. Molding one’s sense of self induces some individuals to undergo cosmetic alterations or suffer from anorexia. Others put themselves in debt with purchases of non-essentials to show that they have meet a standard or have created an authentic - although manufactured self; a branded identity. We are lead to believe this will lead to self-fulfillment. Our appearance has an exchange value that enables us entry into the desired social sphere; the gift wrap has greater value than the contents of the box [5. http://tinyurl.com..., 6. http://tinyurl.com...].
Religion has been commodified as a spiritual consumable. Bishop Kenneth L. Carder stated “the myths, rituals, and methods of the consumerist driven market have now invaded the church, been baptized by the church, ritualized by the church until the message of the gospel is so filtered through the consumerism of the global market that the Gospel of Jesus Christ itself has become another commodity to be exchanged for self - fulfillment, personal success, institutional advancement, and now even national security. ”[7. http://tinyurl.com... ] The US Protestant market place with its charismatic TV evangelist in their mega churches spreading popular religiosity. There are religious tourist attractions with amulets and trinket that have undergone a ritual to confirm their spiritual power. Being religiously affiliated is fodder for media attention and moments of fame much like a reality TV; the likes of Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggarts, Kim Davis, anti-gay bakery owners and the like. There’s a social cache in public displays of religiosity that was unheard of 40 years ago. Religion has been turned in to a commercial culture of group identity; where politicians express sentiment to sway large blocks of voters their way. A commercialized faith vote rather than rational analysis of economic self-interest. The new slogan “Trump God’s Choice for President” has become popular with white Christian Nationalist, further proof of religious commodification. Patriotism and religion are fused and is used as a veneer for those who wear religion like fashionable clothing [7., 8. http://tinyurl.com..., 9. http://tinyurl.com..., 10. http://tinyurl.com..., 11. http://tinyurl.com...;
Health is a Commodity
US health care is reserved to those who can pay, the affluent. It has moved from its intended nature described in the Hippocratic Oath of dedication to healing and serving the sick. Institutions market themselves with products, services and procedures that differentiate lending cache for the purpose of status differential. Essential drugs are too expensive for many. The significant increase in cost of the Epipen is a recent example. Reimbursement for medical procedures is exponentially more profitable than physician-patient talk time, which has been time allotted and highly scheduled. Behavior deviations from the norm are label as diseases and drugs are made to correct; ADD, ADHD. R&D for affordable solutions for drugs for the under privileged, such as malaria in 3rd world nations, are not undertaken due to profits over people mentality. Commodification has striped the social fabric of community and values of citizenship. It has reduced society to the haves and have nots. Money establishes the worthiness for care and release from suffering [12. http://tinyurl.com..., 13. http://tinyurl.com.... http://tinyurl.com.... http://tinyurl.com..., 16, http://tinyurl.com....
Air We Breath/Carbon Tax Kyoto Protocol
As an effort to reduce harmful emission The Kyoto Protocol was put in place. On the surface appeared beneficial in capping pollution, but instead resulted in the commodification of the very air we breathe through emissions trading. Carbon credits are permits to pollute; one credit equals one ton of carbon dioxide or other green house gas. Credits are issued free to industries that are the biggest polluters. Credits issued are equal to the amount they are allowed to pollute in a year. If they do not use all their credits they can be sold on the stock market to other polluters who have exhausted their credits. Carbon credits can be earned through tree planting projects, which has given rise to a whole new industry; monoculture reforestation of cash crops tree via plantations. Carbon Credits are issued for the trees planted which are sold on the markets. The trees are later harvested for profit. Undeveloped countries come under agreement to use their lands as carbon dumps to generate credits or corporations purchase large swaths of land for the purpose. It has resulted in eviction of indigenous and subsistence peoples from their lands. Commodification of the air we breathe at the expense of those who do not benefit from the comforts of industrialized societies, but pay dearly for other to pollute for profit. [17. http://tinyurl.com... 18. http://tinyurl.com... 19. http://tinyurl.com... 20. http://tinyurl.com...; 21. http://tinyurl.com... ]
Media’s primary role is to distribute commodities and to develop our desire for products. It extends itself further as a means of molding our social role within the economy. It is an anti-democratic force. Media mega corps construct what we see and molds our opinions turning economic power into political force. It shapes our thinking to formulate a like minded view which in turn becomes a political ideology. Have a conversation with two people, one that is a daily CNN news watcher, the other of FOX news. It will become quickly evident the diametrical difference between political view points of each viewer. Both are ideologically align with their respective media outlets. [17. http://tinyurl.com... ]
Ads associate a product with social status and value beyond its function, creating derisiveness between the social classes. The purchase of Air Jordon shoes connotes elevated status and athletic ability verses mere feet coverings that offer functional protection. A plain white toilet is a functional item, but we are told a gold plated one is so much better [18. http://tinyurl.com... ]
Summary: Continued commodification of everyday life breaks the ties of social connectiveness and sense of what it is to be human as a collective. It forms our motivations and opinions, as well as places greater value on individuality and social status. Acquisition of things becomes more relevant than family, culture and community ties. The very institution that purports community, brethren and salvation is served up as a spiritual commodity that is shown off like a shinny bangle. We have become a social factory. We are sold the very goods that we produce, not for their value of function, but for some imagined tool to gain self-worth. It has a price and often it’s our very humanity as the expense of those deemed less than worthy.
What is commodification? Why are things commodified?
Commodification is the transformation of goods, services, ideas and labor into objects of trade. Trade originated with human communication in prehistoric times. People trade because it adds value to their lives. It makes things much easier and provides the opportunity to have access to better goods and services or many things that one could not provide for themselves. Commodification does not just allow us to live -- it allows us to thrive.
Does commodification leave us better off? If so, how?
We are undoubtedly better off for commodifying things that we need or appreciate. Bartering allows us to exchange things with other people. Yet often people are more willing to trade (or provide better things in trade) when they have an incentive to do so. Commodification provides incentive to trade. People trade because it improves their quality of life.
There are many jobs that we in society benefit from, that people would not want to do if they did not receive something in return i.e. compensation. By commodifying that task, we give people a reason to perform that job which not only benefits us overall, but helps that individual improve their life and trade for other things that they want or need.
The only things we as human beings need to survive are food, shelter and water. Yet our lives are so much more full and filled with experiences because we have opportunities through commodification. Rather than spend my life simply surviving and providing for my immediate needs, I can do things such as travel the world, go to concerts, take an art class, eat fine chocolate, swim in a hotel pool, etc. specifically thanks to commodification. All of this is due in part to people trading with one another to provide the goods and services required to do these things. I couldn't travel the world unless a knowledgeable pilot (educated by others) flew me on a plane (that others built) etc. which they were all incentivized to do through commodification. Man produces to consume.
Again, commodification does not just allow us to live -- it allows us to thrive.
In many cases it allows us to survive. Perhaps most significantly of all, commodification has greatly expanded human knowledge through education. Consider the fact that years ago medical technology and insight was severely lacking. Thanks to the benefits of studying medicine (which certainly include financial) we have more doctors with better skill and expertise. We also have the necessary equipment, drugs and facilities to save lives. All of these things exist because people have worked together to provide them. People are compelled to work and provide things when they receive a direct benefit such as wages; otherwise they are slaves.
What are some potential problems with commodification?
Some worry that both nature and all aspects of the human experience can be commodified -- that is reduced to something with value that is only monetary. Yet value is entirely subjective. While one might look at something (e.g. artwork) and recognize it only for its monetary worth, another person might see it and feel completely moved. To the latter individual, the same art might represent something entirely different: not just dollar value but an emotional aspect of the human experience.
Consider that a "blood diamond" might represent pain and suffering to someone in Africa, while that same gem could symbolize eternal love and happiness to the person it was ultimately given to as an engagement ring. Subjective experiences and perspective are an inherent, inextricable part of humanity and would exist regardless of commodification. A farmer, scientist and Egyptian who worships a sun deity might have completely different feelings and ideas about the sun for example. So we cannot expect people to assign the same value to everything.
Whether it is one's religious beliefs, emotional feelings, political sentiments, familial values, personal views on risk vs. reward, etc. the fact is that people have different points of view. One social worker or employer might see a candidate as "just business," while another might take on the case or individual as very personal and develop an emotional investment. The point is that humans will ultimately have different values and establish those values for themselves. To some sex is a sacred act reserved for particular relationships and scenarios. To some sex is a commodity. We cannot shame or punish people for commodifying something (like sex) just because others place a different value on it.
There might also be a tendency to exploit resources for profit. However commodification allows us to see nature as a valued resource. Most of the world’s agriculture and food production has already been commodified. As a result, people have an easier time securing food and have access to many more types of food than they would otherwise. Living in NYC, how would one obtain a Florida orange unless someone in Florida was compelled to pick the orange and make sure it was delivered to New York? Doing so would take up the Floridian's time, energy and resources. They would have no incentive to ensure the New York stranger received the orange, especially if the particular New Yorker did not have something specifically useful to the Floridian to trade for. Yet if the Floridian commodified oranges and made it possible to trade for them, the New Yorker (and many others) would now have the opportunity to try them -- and it would be as easy as going to the corner store. In turn the Floridian would have the option of trading with more people and society in general would improve.
Is it possible we contribute toward pollution through commodifying oranges, i.e. by shipping them all over? Yes, but the benefits are obvious and must be weighed comparatively.
Ultimately commodification (like everything else) has its pros and cons. Just about anything on the planet can have positive or negative effects depending on perspective and balance. The question is should commodification be resisted and the answer is a resounding NO. Potentially negative circumstances are not enough reason to prohibit something. We don't avoid swimming just because we could drown. We don't stop eating because there is the possibility for choking. We don't ban cars despite the rampant pollution they cause.
Overall, the commodification of resources has been invaluable toward the preservation and advancement of human society.
Rather than resist commodification (that is combat or prevent it) we should take a more holistic and thoughtful approach to capitalism. On balance, commodification does far more good than harm, and human beings would be far worse off without the existence of commodities. Commodification in general should not be resisted.
Why are things commodified?
Yes, commodification is as defined in R1, but is extrapolated “…referring to the way that market values can replace other social values, or the way a market can replace a communal system. “..human functions has become commodified.” Commodification is more of a crime of the market against humanity”, Douglas Rushkoff, scholar [23. http://tinyurl.com...; 24. http://tinyurl.com...]. The things we think of in non-economic terms; human functions, biological or social interactions are commodified as a saleable items [25. http://tinyurl.com... ]. How does commodifying what it is to be human as a part of the Laissez-faire market place allows us to live and thrive?
Bartering indeed allows for exchange of goods that are needed or wanted, but the act of bartering is done in a social context, it’s a social activity. It has rules or rites that are a part of a particular society’s culture. Often, but not limited to, bartering occurs in natural labor systems. Cultures or societies that work directly with nature to produce food or goods, a farmer, brick maker, basket weaver etc. If certain resources aren’t available or there’s a surplus, trading is done outside their community; mutually agreed upon obligations of reciprocity based on moral codes remain. I trade vegetables I grew for beef from a farmer down the road. A fair deal is had because the valuating schema for our products is mutually understood. The beef farmer would fall short if he bartered with a Hindus vegetable farmer. The value of goods is relative to the culture. What happens when you strip the culture away by commodifying it, as done with the tourist industry (R2)? Who then determines the value of goods? The dominant economic system that commodifies “an experience” for tourist. Moral cultural codes of reciprocity no longer have value [26. http://tinyurl.com... ].
Yes, our labor is commodified, wages for work. But labor value has to be in surplus to the value of the goods produced. Johnny is paid $40 to make a shoe, the shoe is sold for $60; a labor surplus of $20 that Johnny does not directly benefit. An employer would be out of business if labor-product value were equal. A reasonable premise, the purpose of business is profits; through expansion creates more jobs. But this isn’t actually occurring. During the course of the last 40 yrs there’s been a diminishing return on labor. Wage growth has not kept pace with inflation. From the 60’s-80’s one member of a household supported a family of 4, this is no more it now takes two.
“…. Yet our lives are so much more full and filled with experiences… because.. commodification does not just allow us to live -- it allows us to thrive.”
You’re fortunate you can purchase experiences; there are few who can. With rising cost of housing, healthcare, child care & education, purchasing the basics is all most can afford.
Our incomes are squeezed, but still need clothing and food. Many people of modern economies can’t afford traditionally grown or produced goods, overhead costs of shelter and healthcare are prohibitive.
In decades past wages that provided a higher standard of living circulated within our economy creating demand for goods & services fueling economic growth. But domestically produced goods were non-competitive in lesser economies. Western industries wished to expand its consumer base. To make goods affordable and expand markets, manufacturing moved to 3rd world countries for low cost labor. [34. http://tinyurl.com... ]. Impacts: US loss of jobs and flat wages, exploitation of 3rd world workers, child labor, abuse, slavery and unsafe conditions. [35. http://tinyurl.com...] The $6 T-shirt and name brand sneakers that give us a false illusion of status & self worth has cost lives. Profits reaped don’t benefit our economy, but are invested in financial markets & in furthering this scheme abroad; we are getting poorer. It does not lift the 3rd world’s living standards, but is exploitive of people, natural resources & pollutive to their environment, perpetuating urban squalor & poverty.
A. Education & Medicine
K-12 level education has not yet been commodified. Higher education is quickly becoming so. Scholarship and enlightenment is being supplanted by the student as a consumer, lacking intellectual rigor in order to please for marketability. As resources to fund higher education shrinks, fewer people can afford it or are to assume dept lasting into middle age [42.http://tinyurl.com..., 43. http://tinyurl.com... ]. US medical school cost is in excess of $200K, pricing out even the brightest of minds, creating shortages of doctors [44. http://tinyurl.com... ]. A once noble profession has been corrupted. Health care is relegated to those who can pay (R2). Our quality of care has dwindled to 37th in the world as a result of commodification for profit [45. http://tinyurl.com..., 46. http://tinyurl.com...].
As stated earlier we’re getting poorer. Many are essentially slaves in keeping ourselves alive. Our desire for cheap food & goods has caused a boom in literal slavery of others [http://tinyurl.com...; video], [47.http://tinyurl.com..., 48. http://tinyurl.com...]. Morality and ethics are toss aways for the goods in our hands, on our backs and put in our mouth.
Problems with commodification?
Oh yes, the subjectivity of morality and ethics; the justification of slavery, sounds familiar.
Art, the representation of cultural condition is lost when it’s valued beyond aesthetics and emotional response; commodified when its purchase lends social cache’; diminishing the intrinsic value of the work itself. [49. http://tinyurl.com...]
Neo-liberal globalization emphasizes lifestyle & identity as a vehicle to sell goods, creating homogenization of cultures. It forms a capitalistic culture of fetish for self-identifying commodities. Example: Cultures have objects that have representative value. An amulet that one prays upon or holds close is seen as a spiritual conduit to the divine or is a reflection of traditional wisdom or aspect of life; cultural solidarity. Its use-value is not from the materials used to create it. The symbolic value transforms the object into a fetish commodity. Fetish commodities are embedded in cultural heritages. This makes each culture unique and rich. Western capitalism removes these cultural moorings replacing it with individualism and social stratification. An aboriginal teen who proudly wears a token representing his movement into manhood is replaced with gold chains representing social status, self identity and self worth. This fetish commodity has no heritage or collective human unifying value [51. http://tinyurl.com..., 52. http://tinyurl.com..., 53. http://tinyurl.com...;54.http://tinyurl.com... ].
Have run out of characters will continue rebuttal next round.
To my valued opponent
RE: Why are things commodified?
Pro writes, "Trade as originating with human communication is an assertion."
Indeed it is an assertion - a true, factual assertion with supported archeological evidence. Peter Watson dates the history of long-distance commerce from circa 150,000 years ago . We also have evidence of people from the Mediterranean region trading up to 35,000 years BC. People have traded in ancient civilizations and all throughout the Bronze Age .
Regardless, my opponent has not denied the reason things are commodified, and that is because it makes things much easier and provides the opportunity to have access to better goods and services - plus many things that one could not provide for themselves. Since that is an indisputable fact, it's easy to recognize and accept that commodification is incredibly useful.
My opponent should specify if he is denying that commodification is useful and empowering.
RE: Does commodification make us better off?
Since the answer is obviously YES, my opponent has noted that bartering is a social activity with rules. He says that the value of goods is relative to culture. He then asks "What happens when you strip the culture away by commodifying it" and the answer is that the culture doesn't get "stripped away" but rather changes and evolves. Third world countries have the ability to be transformed to second and first world countries through said transformation and commodification.
Pro asks, "Who then determines the value of goods?" and the answer is always the same: each individual. He says "Moral cultural codes of reciprocity no longer have value" which is a completely inaccurate bare assertion. Once again, values are subjective. Not everyone perceives morality the same way, but that doesn't mean morality ceases to exist.
Next my opponent claims that while labor certainly has value, some people benefit more from labor than others.
That's true... but so what? Here comes the terrible economics.
Pro says "Johnny is paid $40 to make a shoe, the shoe is sold for $60; a labor surplus of $20 that Johnny does not directly benefit." It's untrue that there is a $20 labor surplus. The employer who profits $20 from the sale uses that $20 to pay bills (rent, electricity, water, heat, insurance); they use it to pay taxes; they use it to buy and transport more supplies for the business; etc.
But yes we have things like inflation. Small inflation is good for economic growth. Large inflation is harmful, but what does that harm have to do with the virtue of commodification and trade? That's like saying farming is good; over-farming is bad -- therefore farming is bad. No. Rather than not farming, over-farming should be avoided. And similarly, we should try to prevent inflation, but not inhibit commodification.
Indeed I am very fortunate to be able to buy experiences that many people cannot. Yet just because not everyone can afford the same luxuries does not change the fact that said luxuries are specifically possible with commodification. Without commodification they would not exist at all, so nobody would have them anyway. Right now many people in this world do not live in abject poverty. Those who live in poverty -- that is people who struggle to find food, shelter and medicine are living no worse than they would without commodification.
Without people commodyfing the medical industry (medical education, insurance, supplies, drugs, etc.) and profiting off those things, why would someone have any incentive to not only know how to treat people medicinally, but specialize in certain expertise? NOBODY would have decent medical care without commodification. Now many people have access to some type of care, and some have access to amazing care. Even the people who receive medical care in third world countries are being treated by people who were educated in first world countries... by others aiming to profit. Otherwise, those people in third world countries without commodification would just waste away and die without a shred of opportunity at all.
Thus Pro's entire point about people's standard of living changing is completely irrelevant to his argument.
In fact it is self-defeating.
He argues that certain people are "exploited" for their labor, i.e. kids in third world countries who are paid very little for their services. What's the alternative? Pro hasn't explained one because the answer is dire. Without commodification, people would live solely to survive. Thus instead of working for opportunity and trade (remember that trade has already been established as making people's lives easier, and giving them access to more things) those kids would still be working their asses off laboring all day and night. Along with their family, they would be building and maintaining their shelter with their bare hands. They'd have little to no tools for the job. They'd also be hunting, fishing and farming constantly which are tough jobs. And again they would have little to no access to medical care.
Pro must explain how people would be better off without commodification and trade.
Specifically with medicine and education.
RE: Problems with commodification?
Pro writes, "Oh yes, the subjectivity of morality and ethics; the justification of slavery, sounds familiar." Is Pro arguing that morality is absolute? If yes, he should make the case and provide evidence. If not, he should refrain from making pointless comments like this which do not actually make an argument. I've proven that people have different values. Pro cannot deny that so I don't understand his point here. Considering the fact that he acknowledges girls receiving blood diamonds perceive them differently than those killed to mine them, he seems to agree that every individual perspective and evaluation is different.
Earlier in the round, my opponent quotes Douglas Rushkoff saying that commodification is a "crime against humanity" because we can commodify human functions (such as social interactions) as sellable items. In the last round, I've explained that values are subjective. It's not only arrogant and self-righteous to dictate how and what other people should value, but also completely impossible to ensure that various people perceive or interpret (value) things the same way.
For example, I've mentioned sex as a potential commodity. I've outlined that to some people, it is a sacred act that should be reserved for special relationships and milestones. Yet other people do not value sex as being important. To some people, it is a frivolous engagement and does not need to be recognized or upheld as something morally or emotionally valuable. Thus to suggest that we should not commodify sex (or anything else) because SOME people see it as being particularly valuable, is defeating in that we cannot and should not expect everyone to hold the same values.
Pro says "Fetish commodities are embedded in cultural heritages. This makes each culture unique and rich. Western capitalism removes these cultural moorings replacing it with individualism and social stratification." These words are lifted directly from Karl Marx and have no serious contention. It is not anyone's personal responsibility to ensure that one's culture as a whole stays "rich" to my opponent's liking. Furthermore, note that commodification itself becomes embedded into culture and adds value in its own way. For example lots of art (art = a reflection of the human experience) is in response to experiences that people have had directly thanks to commodification.
Why shouldn't people be able to commodify i.e. trade something like sex (or art, etc.) if they do not see it as a moral wrong and it doesn't hurt anyone? Why shouldn't people be able to commodify any type of trade if it is voluntary, beneficial to both parties, and improves their quality of life? My opponent will be responsible for an answer. Keep in mind that I've already explained that potential problems with commodification must be weighed vs. the pros of commodification as a whole.
On balance, the positives of commodification are abundantly more advantageous.
 Watson, Peter (2005). Ideas: A History of Thought and Invention from Fire to Freud. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.
Rebuttal cont. of R2 opponent’s contentions
Problems with commodification?
Whatever culture, humans value life & recognize murder & exploitation. Different points of view that you make point, is our promulgated enculturation into the western neo-liberal culture. It skews social values & ideology to self. We've been inculcated the West’s ways are supreme; all others should mimic if they wish to become a developed country. We fail to see our commodification of daily life has eroded social values & sense of civic duty for the past 30 yrs. With our standard of living in declining, we are now in revolt using minorities & immigrants as scapegoats for our state. Is it ethical to impose our eroding way of life upon others? [55. http://tinyurl.com...;http://tinyurl.com..., 57. http://tinyurl.com...]
Prostitution, the oldest profession is commoditized labor. It has existed across cultures over millenniums. Its social status, or lack of, is dictated by the values of a particular society. Our views toward it are within the frame work of our culture. Others have an alternative view, and that’s the point; honoring other cultural norms [58.http://tinyurl.com..., 59.http://tinyurl.com...].
The commodification of natural resources is Western ideology; its infection into other countries has resulted in slavery; the beef, sugar & fishing industries in Brazil, Dominican & Thailand [60.http://tinyurl.com...]. The push for a global economy has finance & industry taking land for mining & resource extraction, displacing people. This not only does it strip culture, but eliminates these peoples’ self determination, to decide how they wish to advance in their own best interest. States or investors often violently take lands for profit; residents don’t benefit, degrading their quality of life. Current land & resource grabs are occurring in India, Zambia, Congo, Papua & others. Often land grabs are done with military force. [61.http://tinyurl.com..., 62.http://tinyurl.com..., 63.http://tinyurl.com..., 64. http://tinyurl.com..., 65.http://tinyurl.com...]
Mining pollutes water, air & soil. Local people lose fresh water & land becomes un-arable for farming, it undermines local economies, leading to civil unrest; which at times results in military action protecting corporate interest against local insurgence [66.http://tinyurl.com..., 67.http://tinyurl.com...].
Food security for whom? Foreign/industrial interest that has placed land under private control in the 3rdworld doesn’t provide food security, just the opposite. Much of what’s produced is for export & bio fuels; hindering local food security. It reaps investors returns & creates hedge fund products for investors. Farmers' lands are taken & their only employment choice is as farm hands for agribusiness. Biofuel crops are resulting in food insecurity in Ghana, Tanzania & Sudan. Land grabs occur in countries already food insecure, Cambodia, Kenya, & Zimbabwe where 30% or more of the population in malnourished [ 68.http://tinyurl.com..., 69.http://tinyurl.com...;].Is continued commoditization of natural resources at the expense of others on balance a good thing?
Why are things commodified?
There’s nothing wrong with commodifying tangible items, a toaster or TV; I can’t make these myself.How commodification is empowering is very subjective. My point is commoditization of the intangibles of life or of resources that results in harm to others should be resisted.
Your original heading“Does commodification leave us better off? If so, how? And argument was how commodification made our life better. My rebuttal response in summary, commodification doesn’t always prove to be beneficial; in fact we are no longer thriving due to commodification. We are worse off now than 30 yrs. ago.
Your response culture doesn’t get stripped away, but evolves (R2 Indigenous). Wrong. Culture in undeveloped nations get assimilated & indoctrinated at the cost of their autonomy & self-determination; [71.http://tinyurl.com...] they are subservient to the imposed economic system. They lose their egalitarian ways & systems which establishes value of land, concepts of community property & social order. Example: Land ownership is a foreign concept to Native American & Australian Aboriginals; land & natural resources aren’t commodified. Being transformed into a 1st world country under Neoliberal capitalism is costly, altering the fabric in which a culture was built. Product value is based on market forces, not need, use-value or symbolic significance. The commodification of a culture’s norms to fit the parameters of an alternative economic system & culture ought to be resisted. [72.http://tinyurl.com..., 73.http://tinyurl.com..., 74.http://tinyurl.com..., 75.http://tinyurl.com...;]
"Moral cultural codes of reciprocity ... is a completely inaccurate bare assertion”. (Cited#26) to affirm premise. What’s morally correct in one culture isn’t seen as moral in another. Does anyone have the right to undermine moral codes of 1 culture & replace it with another through commodification? No.
You misunderstood the Johnny surplus labor rebuttal. It was not that the shop owner has to deal with overhead before making a profit, but that Johnny doesn’t benefit from his surplus labor because shop profits are not returned into the local economy. The major point was we are not better off due to commodification; but are getting poorer. Continued overseas commodification egregiously exploits workers & environment. Their lives have been commodified to the level of a broken toaster, disposable. Should this continue?
I won’t begrudge your standard of living & luxuries you can afford, but they come at a cost to others. The copper mined in the 3rd world is in your cell phone & other tech products. “Right now many people in this world do not live in abject poverty.” 1.3B people live in extreme poverty. The numbers are getting worse, not better due to commodification [76.http://tinyurl.com..., 77.http://tinyurl.com...].
Health care: A point made that the medical industry has made life better for some, & specifically in the US for those who can pay. Those living in countries with socialized medicine are doing far better, there health care is a right not for the privileged [78. http://tinyurl.com..., 79.http://tinyurl.com...]. In fact, 643,000 people in the US have gone bankrupt due to medical cost. Re: 3rd world medicines; thankfully Doctors without Borders & like volunteer groups; as well as national health organizations donate their time & purchase medicines for the sake of humanity. If 3rd world countries didn’t receive this help, they’d get nothing.
Self-defeating: You’ve misunderstood my contention. Which is continued commodification of social interactions & commodification without respect to 3rd world peoples’ should be resisted. Not ending all commodification & reverting to living off the land; only the expansion of commodification. I’m not required to provide an alternative plan.
Subjectivity & values are in the eyes of the culture, isn’t that the whole point? Our values are NOT the values of other cultures & imposing ours unto others is ethically questionable.
In the US for over 30 yrs, commodification of social interactions has crept into our lives without notice. We’ve commodified our self-identity & self worth via consumerism. We’ve been enculturated to view the individual reigns supreme over the collective. Give thought to things like renting a womb, [http://tinyurl.com...] & for profit adoptions, a white child higher priced than one of color due to market demand. Private contractors & mercenaries fighting our wars destroying the meaning of sacrifice & value of citizenship. Purchasing admission to an elite school through a generous donation, rather than merit. We no longer communicate in person, but through text. Attributes of sympathy, generosity, thoughtfulness, attentiveness are reduced to utility. No longer is there intangible value in community & family, but value placed on a fictionalized community that exists through electronic devices. No more are Sunday family dinners at grandma’s an event looked forward to; but Saturday video game playing with on-line family that churns out a monthly internet bill, new game versions & faster computers to be purchased. Commodification has swallowed more & more of our everyday life & has changed the fabric of our society. Aristotle taught that virtue & morality are civic duties & needs to be practiced toward humanity; this will lead to personal happiness. When we commodify social interactions, the things that make us human & part of a common society is lost. Our moral & ethics are skewed to not what is best for all, but what’s in it for me. [81.http://tinyurl.com..., 82.http://tinyurl.com...]
"Fetish commodities” It is not anyone's personal responsibility” to ensure that one's culture as a whole stays "rich" See above, the commodification of social interactions negates sense of civic mindedness & community; I hear "its not my responsibiliy", my point affirmed.
RE: We've been inculcated the West’s ways are supreme... Is it ethical to impose our eroding way of life upon others?
People willingly commodify and trade their labor and resources to become developed and escape the abject poverty known as being third-world or non-developed. They could live without commodities if they chose to, as people do in western societies like ours by living off the grid in places like Alaska. Eroding is the opposite of developing. We are a developed country.
RE: We fail to see our commodification of daily life has eroded social values & sense of civic duty for the past 30 yrs.
This is a subjective opinion. No examples were provided for me to respond to.
RE: With our standard of living in declining, we are now in revolt using minorities & immigrants as scapegoats for our state.
We are not declining. Immigrants are flocking to this country specifically to escape poverty, as trade and commodification has allowed us to flourish.
RE: Our views toward [prostitution] are within the frame work of our culture. Others have an alternative view, and that’s the point; honoring other cultural norms.
I don't see a point here at all.
My point was that people (even within the same culture) have subjective and differing perspectives and values. I've explained twice that some people value sex as something emotional, intimate and special that ought not to be commodified, whereas other people believe sex is just another form of physical labor because they do not value sex the same way. Therefore they have no qualms with sex being commodified. I've outlined that it's ridiculous to expect people to share the same values on things like sex (art, or anything else) and therefore to prevent people from trading their own resources is both immoral and impractical.
Pro has not responded to my argument.
RE: The commodification of natural resources is Western ideology; its infection into other countries has resulted in slavery.
Pro's #60 source claims that exploitative labor = slavery which is a slight exaggeration. Indeed that sources another source (#3) in which Brazilian workers describe slave-LIKE conditions. Brazil is not a developed country. "Brazil is still considered a developing country due to its low gross domestic product, low living standards, high infant mortality rate and other factors" . This seems to imply that developed countries, i.e. those with elaborate commodification provide the best living conditions.
According the U.N., the least developed countries in the world include gems like Bangladesh, Somalia, Uganda, Liberia... you get the idea . Perhaps if these countries invested in commodities, markets would be established that offer things like medical care and other services that indicate a high standard of living, safety and care.
RE: The push for a global economy has finance & industry taking/polluting land.
People have been displaced since the inception of humanity for various reasons, long before mass commodification. Yet commodification has also allowed us to respond to natural disasters, disease, and other things that have plagued humanity and threatened our lives. Vaccines and other tools to save lives are the result of commodification so it works both ways. I've been saying we need to weigh the pros vs. cons. Commodification does have its cons, but has also allowed us to save and improve lives beyond measure.
Further, the concept of ecological modernism, which sees technology as key to solving big environmental problems, is getting a lot of attention which can help solve some of our current problems .
RE: States or investors often violently take lands for profit; often land grabs are done with military force.
Communist, anti-capitalist countries that don't seek to profit have historically been some of the most violent. People go to war for reasons including but not limited to power, religion, pride, allegiances, and to secure resources even in societies without commodification. Indeed this is highlighted by warring tribes in the NON-westernized, non-commodified societies in Africa and Asia that my opponent highlights as being superior to our western way of life.
RE: Trade & communication was not simultaneous.
I never said that it was. It is an indisputable fact (confirmed by his very own sources on speech) that man has traded with one another since prehistoric times. My point was that people trade/commodify because it is convenient -- otherwise they would not trade. Humans are introduced to new things like exotic food, tools and ideas through commodification and trade. Yes you can and do communicate these things, but commodification and capitalism promotes trade BEYOND basic survival. I could easily survive without ever having tried a Florida orange, but commodification gives me the opportunity to try that and innumerable other things in life. I've explained that just because some people are poor and cannot afford all of life's luxuries, does not change/deny that many people DO get to have those things specifically because of commodification -- and that poor people would not experience them without commodification either.
RE: My point is commoditization of the intangibles of life or of resources that results in harm to others should be resisted.
That is not the resolution of this debate, though commodification of resources has improved the quality of life for many people. W.H. Hutt’s Theory of Idle Resources explains how idle resources are being wasted - that is not being used to their potential or in the most beneficial way . Moreover, Pro should specify what harm he is referring to. Commodification is about voluntary trade, indicating preferential trade.
RE: Indigenous people lose their egalitarian ways which establishes value of land, concepts of community property & social order.
Once again this is voluntary. People who prefer to live simpler lives can/do choose so. We have Amish people and other groups living in egalitarian collectives within the U.S. The culture of Americans has significantly evolved since the Natives were here. Many people would prefer our lifestyle and culture - that is our popular music, food, religion, health care, education system and innumerable other luxuries such as air conditioning, boats, etc. vs. the Native American lifestyle. Some of us prefer capitalism to egalitarianism. Pro should not presume his preference or perspective on which culture is "better" is shared by all. I think undeveloped countries have mostly undesirable culture.
RE: The major point was we are not better off due to commodification; but are getting poorer.
That is 100% false. Despite inflation (which compares cost in numerical value only), we are undoubtedly richer, that is wealthier in what we can buy as time goes on. That goes for all groups in the U.S. including the poor. Plus the disparity in global economic inequality continues to decrease . Outside of major hiccups such as the Great Depression... when commodification was at an all time low... we have continued to produce, create and thrive.
RE: Continued overseas commodification egregiously exploits workers & environment.
I've asked Pro to explain how a third world person's life would be better off without commodification - specifically in regard to education and medicine. He hasn't done so and he won't be able to. Instead he notes that socialized countries have better health care which is not only false as capitalist medicine prevails  but it's also irrelevant. Said socialized countries are all WESTERN countries with lots of commodities - the same western cultures that Pro has condemned throughout his entire round. The best medical care comes specifically at the cost of commodification by Pro's very own examples. Once again his arguments and examples are self-defeating.
1.2 out of 7.2 billion people live in poverty meaning more than 4/5 are not poor. But what does poverty mean? It refers to limited access to things such as food, medicine and education. So once again I ask how people in undeveloped, impoverished countries would have better/more access to these things without commodification.
RE: Our values are NOT the values of other cultures & imposing ours unto others is ethically questionable.
They can choose to reject our culture. Pro complained earlier about rampant immigration into more developed countries. Why would people flock to developed countries that have strong markets and luxuries + opportunity? That doesn't sound like unethical "force" to me.
RE: The commodification of social interactions negates sense of civic mindedness & community.
Pro gives a slew of examples of things he finds unethical, i.e. renting wombs. What he sees as immoral "renting wombs" another person sees as a beautiful act of service that fulfills an important demand -- like carrying the child of someone who might not be able to for health reasons.
Earlier Pro noted we have different cultural views. Obviously we have different values as individuals as well. Just because Pro finds some things immoral doesn't mean we should be expected to share his values. He condemned my "selfish" way of thinking by saying his concerns are not my problem. Yet if I hate chocolate, does that mean Pro should be forbidden from eating it? No. So let's not buy into his manipulated proposition that having different preferences somehow dooms us as a culture or society. We have Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Socialists and everything in between. Differing values is a fact of life regardless of commodification.
Pro has not proven the existence of absolute morality, or that people's subjective preferences should inhibit the improved quality of life through trade for others.
Throughout the debate, there has not been a denial that commodification has its uses. Man has been trading goods since prehistoric times. Despite our different points of view, when this first began, it’s not really germane to the topic as a whole.
I have proven how continued commodification here in the Western has not made us thrive, but has been diminishing over the last 30 years. My opponent has failed to equate how we have been empowered by it; other than all the good stuff we can get. My opponent feels that our dwindling standard of living is a subjective opinion, but examples have been provided. Our standard of living has diminished due to lack of reinvestment at home. The rise of dual income households, obtaining and keeping employment, high education debt, and colleges treating students as customers rather than intellectual molding of minds, as well as stagnant wages to restate a few. Healthcare has been commodified, it’s limited to the worthy who can pay. Many in the US file for bankruptcy due to medical cost. The high cost of drugs like the Epipen is an unaffordable life saving drug, the marketing of medical services and lack of R&D for affordable drugs for the 3rd world has not been not undertaken due to profit motivation; these all are uncontested points. Third world nations only receive health care through the charity of others. My opponent uses a capitalist web site to state our health system is better than socialized countries, but the Commonwealth Fund and World Health Organization concur in opinion on our system ranking 37th [http://tinyurl.com...].
Bad economic times are not just hiccups; it’s been in a slow and steady decline over time. Our social interactions, human functions have been commodified, love, good feelings, judicial pain and suffering awards, the purchasing of self-identity for self worth, religion, media molding our views, even the air we breathe has been commodified; uncontested. Additionally uncontested is our sense of community, family and civic sense has been eroded by commodification. Our on-line families mean more than real families; we have for profit adoptions, and hired mercenaries to fight our wars. The marketing of stuff creating a drive to achieve social status and self worth, which also furthers greater social stratification and derisiveness has caused social harm. How does commodifying what it is to be human as a part of the Laissez-faire market place allows us to live and thrive has gone unanswered.
Imposing our system of Neo-liberal commodification upon 3rd world countries has caused harm. Their economic autonomy in making decisions on how they wish to develop is denied them. Their barter/trade systems are reduced to market forces, a point dropped by my opponent in the last round. As wells as how our market system destroys the cultural fabric of community, and has destroyed cultures via the tourist industry. My opponent believes commodification in the 3rd world is voluntary. But, often is not; their natural resources are taken to supply the West’s consumer culture; they don’t reap the economic benefits. Lands are privatized and at times forcibly taken. Pollution results, and in some cases people become slaves or die in the name of profits; a few citations regarding slavery occurring have been provided. Lesser developed countries are being taken advantage in the name of Neo-liberal commodification, Brazil, Dominican, Thailand, India, Zambia, Congo, Papua Ghana, Tanzania, Sudan Cambodia, Kenya, & Zimbabwe to name a few. They are not better off with the introduction of our western system, but worse off. To say that “undeveloped countries have mostly undesirable culture” is passing a subjective judgment. For those living through our style of commodification may feel otherwise, especially those who have been displaced and now live in polluted squalor due to our impacts.
My opponent objects to my contention made in round 2 in the 4th round, I certainly made my direction clear at the start. Whether metaphorically or literally, my opponent uses sexual values as a comparative of the subjectivity of morality; the issue has been addressed. And, it can be said with great confidence that morality behind slavery, death due to unsafe work conditions and polluting the 3rd world for profit for the 1st world nations is reprehensible by anyone’s standards.
I’d like to thank my opponent for the invigorating and challenging debate. This surely has been a unique topic and thanks to Bsh1 for instigating the tournament.
Once again I would like to thank my opponent for this debate.
I'd also like to thank bsh1 and the audience for reading/voting.
There has been no denial throughout this debate that commodification has its issues. However there has been no acknowledgement whatsoever by my opponent regarding the serious, innumerable, and invaluable advantages and benefits that commodification has allowed for humanity and continues to provide. I have repeated that we must weigh the pros and cons, and benefits vs. problems of continued commodification. Thus I have outlined and compared the repercussions, and proven that commodification is a positive trend which, on balance, does far more good than harm.
I've also explained that while problems associated with commodification can and should be curbed, that commodification in general is not the enemy. For example overmedicating someone is harmful. That doesn't mean medicine is overall harmful -- it means medicating someone can be problematic, and we should attempt to avoid those problems, but not completely curb the behavior. Having the option of medicating someone and continuing the benefit of medicine is the right move even though there are potential harms with medicating people (i.e. risk of dependency, etc.).
We see this need for balance and regulation in almost every single human endeavor. Fishing is good, overfishing is bad. Exercise is good, but too much exercise can be harmful or detrimental to one's health. And so it is with commodification. Commodification is good. Does it have it's risks? Yes, but it most definitely has its rewards -- something that my opponent has ignored throughout this entire discussion, almost certainly because he recognizes the rewards far surpass the potential risks.
And furthermore, if we attempt to curb the bad things associated with commodification through regulation, education, and otherwise, then it becomes indisputable that the benefits and pros of commodification undoubtedly negate the resolution.
This country (and the West in general -- that is countries with mass commodification) enjoys the highest standard of living ever known to mankind . Even our poor people have a high standard of living. I've explained our high standards repeatedly, particularly in regard to access to education and medical care. To deny that we have things today that make our lives safer, healthier and easier than ever before thanks to technology and other advancements is outrageous. The richest people on the planet did not enjoy the luxuries 100 years ago that the poor and middle class people can enjoy and benefit from today.
Examples include medical treatment, tools to make cleaning and housework easier (dishwashers, washing machines, air conditioning, etc.), zippers, GPS, running water, indoor plumbing, toasters, lighters, heating systems, disposable diapers, useful over the counter medicine, thermometers, batteries, cameras, phones, and of course the Internet which has been tremendous. There is also the invaluable fact that we have the highest life expectancy of any generation in human history (including the poor) thanks to said advancements.
Things like gasoline, clothes, and grocery shopping are cheaper now than ever before . So when Pro lists things that we consider frustrating (and indeed they are problematic) such as student debt, etc., we must remember that we only HAVE things like student debt because we CHOOSE to, and we choose to because we see a valuable return. College degree = job opportunity. Job = wealth generation. Wealth is the security to provide for our basic needs. We would need to provide for our basic needs in life regardless of commodification. Yet commodification makes this far easier (Pro has not denied or responded to these related arguments) and provides the opportunity for saving and luxury.
But indeed there are still people who are extremely poor. That's why throughout this debate, I have asked Pro multiple times to explain how these poor people would be better off without commodification. Commodification provides jobs i.e. the opportunity to be lifted out of poverty. Sure the poor today don't have access to many opportunities and tools that would help them such as better medical care, education and whatnot. But without commodification, how WOULD they have access to these things? Again - Pro has no answer. I have asked multiple times. The reality is that these poor people will never have access to these things (like we have in the commoditized West) without commodification.
I would like to point out for the audience that I specifically asked 2-3X how impoverished people would have access to better shelter, medicine, health care, or education without commodification and there was no response.
Pro complains that I have used a capitalist site to confirm that capitalist medicine is far more advanced than its socialist counterpart... which is an irrelevant and fallacious ad hominem, as criticizing the source does not discredit the content contained within the article - content my opponent has completely ignored. And yet still Pro fails to respond to my point here: that all of the countries he outlines as having superior socialist medicine, i.e. Western Europe, are all countries with significantly high levels of commodification even though they are socialist commodities. Again this is self-defeating and tramples his own argument.
Indeed it's been common for Pro to ignore the vast majority of my arguments and notations. For example I've repeated that our western way of life and markets is not imposed on impoverished nations -- they willingly beg, hope, pray and welcome with open arms the opportunity to have their markets flourish and economy grow. My opponent does not deny this; he simply ignores it and repeats that we "force" our commodification onto others.
While my opponent insists that other countries are worse off through commodification -- he even lists them -- he fails to specify how. Indeed people in third world countries are still living pretty crappy lives. Well what would improve the quality of their lives? The answer is things like better water systems, health care, better agriculture, more technological improvements - specifically in relation to electricity, and surely more access to the internet . All of these things are the direct result of commodification and commodification is what allows us to have these things in the West, thus it is self-refuting to single out countries without commodification and point out how bad they are doing -- especially without providing an explanation on how to improve without commodification.
And that's really what this debate comes down to. Since it's so important, I'll repeat and bold it for good measure. Pro has no problem noting that many countries are still doing pretty bad, yet he does not and CAN NOT explain how they can improve without commodification. I repeat: Pro has not explained how to improve people's lives -- i.e. access to reliable shelter, medicine, education and general care without commodification. Indeed it is commodification which makes those things far more available.
I've made this point several times; Pro has chosen not to respond or simply cannot negate that fact.
Pro also repeats that we are commodifying important things like sex, love and religion, when I have repeated that people's values are subjective and diverse -- and that it would be arrogant, self-righteous and futile to dictate what things Pro thinks other people ought to value the way he does from his individual and limited perspective. What he considers to be a gross example of commodification (i.e. carrying someone else's child for money) someone else might see as the most beautiful and loving act that they are eternally grateful for, as that commodified trade allows them to have a biological child of their own even if they personally couldn't carry one.
Pro writes, "Whether metaphorically or literally, my opponent uses sexual values as a comparative of the subjectivity of morality; the issue has been addressed." Yes it has been addressed and the point is very much in my favor. To reiterate the point, Pro mentions that western society is eroding because we commodify things that HE thinks we should not commodify. His examples include "love, good feelings, judicial pain, the purchasing of self-identity for self worth, religion," etc. Yet I have proven that not everyone values things like those the same way. So while he might feel spirituality, love, etc. should be something to not be commodified, other people see the value in commodifying those sentiments and behaviors (i.e. prostitution, dating websites that help people look for love, etc.) and he cannot dictate that others live according to HIS values.
My opponent has also quipped "To say that undeveloped countries have mostly undesirable culture is passing a subjective judgment." And yet ironically he continues to assert that developed, commodified countries are undesirable which is of course his own subjective judgment.
At the end of the last round, Pro maintains that immigrants are scapegoated for Western problems which is true. Remember this coincides with my argument that immigrants are flocking to the West specifically because our advances markets have given us an improved quality of life. People want the opportunities and benefits that commodification afford, hence the rampant mass immigration to western societies and the push to have growth through capitalism/commodification in countries without it.
Commodification does more good than harm. It protects people and on balance saves/improves lives.